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04 February 2005

Waiting to Exhale

I am sure I stopped breathing when Timmeh went down. Doug Collins was hyperventilating and exclaiming "Oh no, Oh no, I just can't look at the replay," making it seem like Duncan's fibula had broken the skin and pierced his eye. I was surprised to feel tears welling up as I contemplated the ruination of what could have been a very special season. One second you're enjoying the renaissance of Malik Rose and then *poof*, the season is OVER. Like getting punched in the gut.

I, like the TNT announcers, thought there was no way Pop would play Duncan in the second half. But Timmeh wanted to play and he's earned the right to make the call in that situation. And I'm glad he did, because the Spurs orchestrated one of the most enjoyable quarters of basketball that I've ever seen. They outscored the Lakers 37-15, making 13 of 17 shots with 11 assists. Seven different players scored and five different players had assists.

The Spurs are a unique NBA team in that they can blow a team out without having one player score a ton on points. They are so much fun to watch, especially now when everything seems to be coming together. Parker has his confidence back, Pop has loosed the chains on Nobili and Barry seems more integrated in the offense. That's what made Duncan's injury all the more painful; this team could be it. I just want to see where this team could go.

I am not sure any other coach would have handled the fourth quarter like Pop, basically risking a loss by keeping Duncan on the bench. I loved the move. Like Collins said, you cannot always expect to get bailed out. In the playoffs teams are going to collapse on Tim and somebody else is going to have to make the plays on the offensive end in the fourth quarter.

If not for the Tim scare Malik Rose would have been the story (for Spurs fans at least). He had a great game-- 19 points on 10 shot attempts with 11 rebounds (seven offensive) and 3 assists. I think the difference is that for once he played under control; letting the offensive opportunities come to him and more importantly playing disciplined defense. He needs to channel all his extra energy into hitting the boards. I was happy to see him playing well again.

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All content copyright Matthew Powell 2005.